There are any number of pilot’s watches being made around the world. Far fewer are those that are actually made by pilots, for pilots. In this latter, very small category, is the English company known as Bremont, which was started in 2007 by two English brothers named, conveniently enough, Nick and Giles English. Nick and Giles grew up around aircraft and began flying at a very early age, and both were RAF reservists as well. Their father was an aeronautical engineer, and his two hobbies were collecting vintage aircraft, and collecting and restoring clocks and watches.
It was in the aftermath of their father’s tragic death in an air show crash (which also left Nick badly injured) that the two brothers had what both later described as a life-changing realization. Both had been working in corporate finance, and it was the loss of their father and Nick’s brush with death that made them realize they wanted to do something with more personal meaning to them than managing money. The result was the foundation of a company whose long term ambition is nothing less than the restoration of British watchmaking –once one of the proudest manufacturing traditions in the world –to its rightful place of prominence.
Bremont’s watches are characterized by the pursuit of extreme durability, accuracy, and reliability –as pilots themselves, Nick and Giles have spared no effort to ensure that their watches both perform faultlessly, and look good doing it. One technology employed in their watches is a special steel hardening process that results in a watch case that is up to 2000 Vickers (a rating scale for hardness); ordinary watch cases are around 350 Vickers. Bremont’s deep ties to aviation have resulted in some remarkable partnerships as well; they are routinely approached by active duty military squadrons to produce watches. They have produced a squadron watch for pilots of America’s U2 spy plane, for instance, and they are the only watch manufacturer ever to have partnered with the Martin Baker company —that’s the firm that manufactures rocket propelled ejection seats for many of the world’s front-line military aircraft.
The newest watch from Bremont is an aviation thoroughbred as well. It’s the result of a commission dating back to 2010 from the aircrews of the C-17 Globemaster , a four-engine military transport jet used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to forward operating bases. The ATL1-WT Globemaster watch is designed to fill the needs of aircrews operating over long distances and crossing multiple timezones, while also tolerating the extremely rough environment to be expected on an aircraft which often finds itself transporting essential material into an actual theater of combat. As with other Bremont watches, the ALT-1 WT is equipped with Bremont’s proprietary hardened steel bezel, and features an automatic chronograph movement, certified as a chronometer. A rotating inner bezel has the names of reference cities in the 24 major time zones around the world, and we’re very happy to see that Bremont has incorporated their “Roto-click” bezel, which has positive detents that click into position at each one minute mark on the bezel, into the watch.
The ATL1-WT also features, of course, an independently settable 24 hour hand that can be set to show “Zulu time” (UTC or Greenwich Mean Time, which is the time standard for aircraft navigation) or, for non-pilot travelers (that’s most of the rest of us) the time in any desired second time zone.
It’s a tough, no-nonsense watch that was designed from the ground up to fill the needs of professional military aviators. Chances are it can take anything you throw at it as well.
The Bremont ALT1-WT will be available starting in the Summer of 2012, at $5695 in (extremely hard) stainless steel. The watch will be delivered on a (very tough) leather strap with an (extremely durable) nylon NATO military strap as well. A copy of its chronometer certificate will accompany each watch. We are happy to note, by the way, that we have had a Bremont ALT1-Z which we have enthusiastically abused during flights literally around the world for the last three years running and it essentially looks like a new watch. Might need a strap change at some point.